Ab Ovo

Unless one is into raising chickens or other poultry, the opportunity to watch a bird develop ab ovo—from the egg—doesn’t come along every day. Up until my encounter with a pair of jelly bean–shaped hummingbird eggs during a hike at our local Cheyenne Mountain State Park on July 4, which I shared with you here, I had not had occasion to do so.

Determined as I was after that experience to return to the nest repeatedly to try to follow the mysterious goings-on inside that beautiful little nursery, there was no guarantee that either one of the eggs would hatch, and if they did, that the hatchlings would survive.

Today I’m thrilled to tell you that both eggs did, indeed, hatch, and both hatchlings did survive, at least as long as they remained in the increasingly snug space where their dedicated and tireless mother brought them up.

July 4, 2022: Mama Hummingbird incubating

At my first follow-up visit on July 19, my heart gave a leap of joy when I beheld two diminutive naked birds who seemed all head and beak. As a matter of fact, in the third photo below you can see four yellow mandibles protruding from the nest’s rim as the little ones were begging for food.

July 19, 2022: Both eggs had hatched

July 19, 2022: Needy babies

July 19, 2022: Two hungry mouths to feed

When I returned on August 1, the two siblings seemed to prop one another up in what must have been very confining conditions. They seemed ready to pop out of what resembled a small egg cup.

August 1, 2022: Still in their nursery

August 1, 2022: Not much room to move

I knew it couldn’t be long before they would have to leave their family home, but I didn’t make it back again until August 7. Their nest was still there, and it was empty, which was expected (according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds incubate their eggs for 16 to 19 days and it takes 21 to 26 days before the hatchlings fledge). I carefully scanned the tree in which Mama Hummingbird had decided to settle, but didn’t see anybody. Hearing the soft chip vocalization common to both male and female hummingbirds, I scrutinized all the neighboring trees until I finally saw one hummingbird perched high on a branch. It was a gray, overcast day and my photo isn’t worth showing, but I’m fairly certain that it was one of the fledglings. A few feet away what sounded like a second hummingbird was chirping, possibly the sibling. Despite waiting for a while for their caretaker to return with food, I did not get to see her.

August 7, 2022: Empty nest

While I can’t be certain that what I saw and heard on that August day were the two erstwhile eggs almost ready to set out on their own, I am hopeful and claim the right to write a happy ending to their miragical story. May they grow strong and plump before their migration to Mexico or Central America, where they will spend the winter (imagine the aerial journey of a creature not weighing more than 0.13 ounce, or 3.6 grams). And may they return again next summer to lay their own tiny eggs and culminate in another big miracle.

58 thoughts on “Ab Ovo

  1. Oh, this is great, Tanja. The only times we have ever been so privileged to watch birds hatch and mature has been the occasions when a robin decides to nest in our garage. We also have phoebes that sometimes nest under the eaves of our shed but they are so hidden under there that we cannot really see the goings on. But knowing they are there is a happiness.
    Many decades ago I knew a woman who had a combination tailoring/clothing shop with other hippie paraphernalia called Ab Ovo.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Steve. I feel very fortunate to have watched this amazing process unfold.
      “Knowing that they are here is a happiness” is a wonderful statement. I’m fairly sure there are some nesting House Wrens and House Finches in some of our shrubs and trees, but I have never seen a nest and will respect their privacy.
      It’s interesting to learn that you frequented hippie shops (I know you are going to reply you only knew the woman and didn’t frequent her shop, but there is no need to.) 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful post! Such a privilege to witness these two tiny creatures as they went from egg to fledgling. Your wonderful pictures took me right along with you, and I felt as though I were by your side to witness the joy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello Tanja,
    Oh what a special moment you have experienced. I of course remembered when you first discovered the nest and am delighted you were able to observe key moments while the little ones grew from “head and beak” to plump youngsters thanks to the dedication of their amazing mother. I too keep hope that both fledged safely and that this family will continue on their remarkable adventure. I wish them with all my heart a safe and happy life.

    I needed some “bird therapy” today, and your story was the perfect medicine.
    Thanks much as always for sharing and please continue to to take care and stay well my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Takami,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m so glad I was able to share these glimpses into a remarkable family’s development. May all our good wishes for them come true.

      “Bird therapy” is a daily necessity for me as well, so I can completely relate.

      Sending you warmest wishes,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful story and I hope that your happy ending was what happened and that they grow or grew strong enough for their migration to the south and that „The circle won‘t be broken“!
    Kindest regards,

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a wonderful experience. I rarely see hummingbirds, and to see the babies seems the most wonderful thing possible. I feel certain that their fledging was successful. Perhaps now their parents can get some rest! Just now, I have bluejay and chickadee babies being fed, and the comings and goings of the parents truly are from dawn to dusk. Perhaps if some of the human parents in our world showed such care for their youngsters, their fledging would be more successful, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Linda. With regard to new animal life, summer is definitely a joyful season. I’m glad you get to enjoy your bird babies. Some human parents could definitely learn from their avian counterparts. I’m fully convinced that not everybody who has babies is suited to be a parent, but unfortunately, sometimes people don’t find that out until it’s too late. It’s tragic how many children suffer in consequence.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an amazing story you have there, Tanja – worth going back to in posterity time and again. Thank you for sharing it here. I am truly in awe of the efforts you have put in to follow up on the entire nesting progress. You are blessed.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You had a rare and amazing experience!
    If we could offer this to every child, our planet’s environment would stand a better chance of survival.

    The miracle of nature right before our very eyes!

    We were fortunate to have hummers nest outside our kitchen window when we lived in San Antonio. Amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lucky you for having a nest so close to your former home. Watching this one has definitely been one of the highlights of summer.

      And I wish every child could witness this or a similar miracle and get inspired to preserve and protect all the small miracles our wonderful planet offers us every single day.


  8. Oh my goodness, what a precious post. How lovely to be able to document the fledglings from the jelly bean eggs. They looked fat and healthy, almost overflowing the nest. I like to imagine they will briefly visit my garden on route to the south. K x

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a great story complete with lovely shots of the offspring. You don’t get to see sights like that very often and glad you had the opportunity to see that through. A happy ending indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fantastic and rewarding experience witnessing the the development of the babies at the nest with the added bonus of being able photograph the progress to share it with us. Even the nest itself is a delight. It is indeed hard to believe that such minute little birds can migrate so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sorry I went missing back there somewhere…. but I’m so happy I managed to keep this one from getting swept out in the floods that overwhelmed… 😉
    You are much like me, hesitant to get into depth when life begins to overwhelm us, but it’s so lovely when we reconnect again!

    I glad you had this wonderful experience of watching over these lovely little jewels. They are so incredibly tiny and amazing… such a joy to have them visit and what a delight to get to watch over the new generation.

    I hope you and yours are all well. Returning some of the great thoughts others send me. They worked! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so good to hear from you, Gunta, thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you are doing better.

      Following this little family will stand out as one of the best experiences this summer, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to witness their amazing evolution.

      Take care,

      Liked by 1 person

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